Lessons from an Almost 30-Year-Old

I’m turning 30 at the end of this year and I can’t help but wonder what I could of done better and differently during this season of discovery, transition, enlightenment, and adventure.

During my 20s I’ve always looked for the next best thing and how I can just get through turning 21, starting college, finding a secure place of employment, falling in love, breaking up, falling in love again, buying my first place, and getting married. I’ve read a lot of articles, books, and thoughts about getting through your 20s. Some of them are practical, and some of them make you wish to skip these so-called dreaded years altogether. 

After fast-forwarding my 20s, I’ve come to one conclusion: I wish I didn’t want to just get through my 20s. I wish I took the time to enjoy them embracing the unknown, the adventure, the experience, instead of worrying and debating where I’m going and what I was doing. 

How you spend your time during your 20s will be the most influential in regard to your future. These years are incredibly crucial to your development. But as important as these years are, they can be the most confusing. There is so much uncertainty that surrounds every aspect of our lives, whether it’s dating, friendships, or a career path. There will be regrets. There will be mistakes. And at times, you will lose sight of what is truly important to you. 

Here are 12 ways to help you navigate this season, building a strong and wise character, and enjoying your 20s instead of trying to just get through them: 

1.     Don’t rush and never settle. Whether it’s a relationship, a job, or geography, it’s easy to settle for less than God’s best because, most often then not, less is right in front of us and best is not here yet--we have to wait. Remember, God’s timing is neither fast nor slow. Don’t rush. Don’t settle. Not today. Not any day. Wait on the Lord and he will guide you straight into the unknown to join hands with his plans. And while we’re at it, don’t settle for a relationship that won’t let you be yourself.

2.     Have fun, rest and be thankful. In today’s society it is inbreeded in our beings that one has to run fast in order to get ahead. In some areas this can be found true. However, when rest is lost among the rush, you being to experience unfulfillment and void. Where am I going? What am I doing? Take the extra time to enjoy the season of the 20s. There will be sections in your life when you are serious and busy, like finals week or moving to a new place. Life is busy and serious and full of lists and things to accomplish, but rest and adventure and beauty are there too.

3.     Pray. Along your journey of discovery and change, bumps and bruises are bound to happen. Pick up your Bible, bow your head, and pray. Don’t hide. Talking to God hasn’t changed since you graduated high school and it will not change when you hit thirty. Continue building a relationship with God. Don’t forget about him while you’re studying, meeting new people, and vacationing with friends on the beach, and especially when you feel like you’ve lost your way.

 4.     Be you. The last thing you want to do is wake up on your 30th birthday and realize that you’ve been living in someone else’s shoes and you’re not the person you wish you were. In fact, you don’t even know who you are. Comparison not only steals your joy and confidence, but overtime you become a replica of someone else, devoiding the world of YOUR gifts, talents, and beautiful personality.

 5.     Take the risk and try something new. Do the thing that you’re most afraid of. You’ll never believe where it might take you! Don’t stop learning and growing and creating adventures everywhere you go. Sometimes life is wild, it moves faster than you can keep up with and you just have to hold on and enjoy the beautiful ride. 

 6.     Embrace your singleness. If you’re 27 years old and wondering when it’s your turn to retire the maid of honor title and replace your wardrobe to a glamorous white dress, remember, life doesn’t start at the end of the aisle. Life starts the second you fold your story into the larger kingdom and follow Jesus forward. Being single is a gift, just like being married is one as well; however, your life’s purpose isn’t defined by the person sleeping next to you.

 7.     Love well. Every stranger has backstory that is the common denominator--for we all share in the human experience: pain, sadness, grief, lack of love, and then, with hope and help, step-by-step achievements. We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and rejection. Love like Christ loves, without blame or selfishness and without fault or impatience.

8.  Create an honest community. It’s better to have 5 solid friendships, than 15 just okay friends. Surround yourself with inspiring beings and spend time with nice people who are smart, driven, and likeminded. Relationships should help you, not harm you. The community you center your life around should reflect the person you want to be and whom you’re proud to be around. These people should not only make you better, stronger, and wiser, they love you unconditionally during your messiest parts of life, motivate you beyond your fears and insecurities, and genially care about your being.

9.  Share your story. Everyone needs your story. It matters. Your stories shed light into dark places, lift a spirit, and put a smile on someone's face. Your stories inspire and challenge. Your stories change people. You don’t have to have a glamorous life or have it all together to have a story to tell. Sometimes you may not know if your words had an impact. But more often then not, they did.

10.  Live in the moment--no regrets, no excuses. The moment you accept that imperfect is more beautiful and full of joy than perfect is a good moment. Seeking perfectionism can potentially block you from experiencing the moments that bring fullness to your life. There will be regrets. There will be mistakes. However, choose to live where regret isn’t an option.

11.  Stop complaining. Plans change. Things might not go your way. Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure. Instead of complaining about your circumstances create more adventures for a better outcome, an outcome that you originally desired but even better. The world is teeming with beauty in the most unexpected places. Think of your days as a treasure hunt. Make it a goal to notice.

 12.  Remember that you’re beautiful. Being beautiful is not just skin deep but goes beyond what people see on the inside. It’s taking care of the body you’ve been given, sharing your knowledge, and equipping others. Beauty is seeing the worth in yourself and in others, discovering who God created you to be, and embracing that beauty God created in you that is unique to only you.